Alli/Xenical and Liver Damage?

From Monthly Prescribing Reference:

The FDA has notified healthcare professionals and consumers that it is reviewing new safety information regarding reports of liver-related adverse events in patients taking orlistat, which is marketed in the U.S. as Xenical (from Roche) and Alli (from GlaxoSmithKline). The FDA has received 32 reports of serious liver injury, including 6 cases of liver failure, in patients using orlistat.

The FDA is not advising doctors to stop prescribing orlistat at this time.  The Wall Street Journal included a quote from Alli’s manufacturer:

There is no evidence that Alli causes liver damage, said Glaxo spokeswoman Deborah G. Bolding. She said the drug is minimally absorbed in the blood and works in the gastro-intestinal tract, meaning there is “no obvious biological mechanism” to suggest liver damage can occur with Alli.

I’m not sure if this was due to Bolding’s wording or the reporter’s, but the impression I got from the WSJ is that Xenical may be problematic—but Alli isn’t.  But both are orlistat, and to be frank, if it was an obvious problem it would probably have been found long before now.

The FDA’s statement is here.

10 thoughts on “Alli/Xenical and Liver Damage?

  1. Forgive me, but surely if any of it’s absorbed at all, the liver is going to have to process it or its byproducts at some stage?

    Anyway, Boots (the biggest UK drugstore chain) is really pushing Alli, and it’s being sold at pharmacies in our major supermarkets. The only worry anyone seems to have about it over here is that there’s been evidence to suggest it ‘s being sold to people who, OMG, are of a ‘healthy’ BMI….like as long as the people taking it are fat, it’s OK. Not.

  2. My guess is it’s a dosing issue, particularly if they’re saying that Xenical is worse than Alli. IIRC, Alli is a half dose of Xenical and a too-high dose of many things can shread your liver.

  3. Of course. I can’t even pretend to be surprised at yet another weight loss drug being harmful.

    I’m just waiting for the rash of stories about WLS and premature death I expect to start in, hmmm, 2020.

  4. There is already plenty of evidence of premature death & WLS, as well as many weight loss drugs. And today on Oprah, which I am thankfully not watching, they are apparently discussing the new ‘miracle treatment’ of brain surgery for weight loss. Ah, yes, fat people are expendable; experiment on us, give us lobotomies, mutilate our digestive tract, kill us…but just do whatever is necessary so that we do not inflict our ‘ugliness’ on the lives & the world of the beautiful people, who are of course so much more deserving of good things in life, respect, access, legal rights, than we are. And, yes, after 30 years of working on fat rights & dealing with attendant issues, I AM a bit bitter & VERY angry.

  5. Just saw this on Google trends and clicked on your blog … Yes, I totally agree with a previous commenter: If it’s in the blood it will go through/affect your liver. The liver cleans the blood, so anything foreign will affect it … somehow … and sooner or later. And since we don’t have a spare, any liver damage is serious.

    • Yup. Even something as relatively benign as Tylenol can cause liver damage if taken in large quantities. One of the reasons I avoid “multi-symptom” over-the-counter remedies is to avoid accidental overdoses.

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